Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Welcome Summer!

Last Saturday night, our neighborhood club held its annual Summer Welcome Party. This party is held the last weekend in May each year, and includes a barbecue and Hawaiian luau dancers. It is fun to get together with our friends and neighbors to talk and celebrate the upcoming months ahead we will be enjoying the pool together and HOT HOT weather here. It is particularly nice because most of the men have hectic work schedules and it is very rare to see them at all except at parties like this or occasionally on the weekends in the summer at the pool. The weeks to come after the party, there will be several families moving from the neighborhood (at least 4 this year) and most of us will be taking our annual homeleave trips starting as early as next weekend (I think we are the first ones to leave). It's hard to believe how the crowd has changed in the three and a half years we've been here, even how much our kids have grown.

Here they are this year before the party:

Here they are the first year we went:

Now, that I told you how our neighborhood welcomes summer, let me share with you a few ways that the Japanese welcome summer. There are several things that start happening to let you know that summer is coming.

First, you start to see these in the stores:

Why don't they just wear long sleeves? It's not the season for long sleeves, you have to wear short sleeves and to cover from the sun, you accessorize with these!

Then, you start to notice people wearing these:

The rivets on the side turn this wide rimmed visor into a "welder's face shield", no possibility of sun exposure on that face!

Then, you wonder why you see more people holding umbrellas on sunny days than rainy:

Actually, it's pretty smart, make your own shade!

Here, in Japan, there are a lot of wacky unspoken rules we've learned about along the way. One of these is a weird seasonal dress code. It's not so much dependent on the weather but the date. For instance, yesterday, Dave said to me "it's officially coolbiz season". I was wondering what he meant by that or thought he made it up trying to use funny japanese English. No, he told me that the Japanese government has some mandate that from June to October, companies should allow employees to come to work in "coolbiz" attire because of the heat. Essentially, they can go to work without a suit and tie and wear a short sleeved shirt. This also applies for schools, my son's preschool actually has uniform change date on it's calendar, it doesn't matter if it's unseasonably cold like this year, you have to dress for the season.

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